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Kentucky’s Diallo expected to declare for NBA draft

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Hamidou Diallo is expected to declare for the NBA draft and hire an agent, according to a report from FanRag Sports.

This decision doesn’t come as much of a surprise, but it does provide the next batch of potential pros a blueprint for what not to do.

Diallo graduated high school after the 2015-16 season and, after spending the first semester as a postgrad during the 2016-17 season, enrolled at Kentucky as a redshirt in the second semester. He was then eligible to declare for the 2017 NBA Draft and, despite being thought of as a late-first round pick, opted to instead enroll at Kentucky and play out the season.

That did not go anywhere near as well as planned. Diallo averaged 10 points and 3.6 boards while shooting just 33 percent from beyond the arc, although those numbers might be flattering in comparison to what his performance was. The 6-foot-5 off-guard spent much of the second half of the season as a candidate to get benched, and eventually became a rotation piece for the Wildcats as it became clear that their best perimeter attack included Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kevin Knox and Quade Green.

If anything, Diallo’s experience proves that leaving for the NBA when your stock is the highest is, generally speaking, the best move for these players to make.

Diallo is an exception athlete with all of the measureables that scouts love. He’s 6-foot-5 with a 6-foot-11 wingspan, dynamic athleticism and the build that should allow him to defend three positions at the next level. His issues is two-fold: He still is a question mark on the offensive end of the floor, as his jumper is not yet consistent and he struggles to create points on his own, and while he is a playmaker defensively, he still is learning the positional elements of the game on that side of the ball.

There is potential here, but it is going to take some time for Diallo to reach that potential.

As of now, he’s projected as a second round pick. He joins Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Kevin Knox as players that have signed with agents off this Kentucky team. P.J. Washington announced that he will be testing the waters while Nick Richards already made clear that he is returning to school; Sacha Killeya-Jones is transferring. With the incoming freshmen included, this is what Kentucky’s depth chart looks like for next season:

PGs: Quade Green, Immanuel Quickley

Wings: Keldon Johnson, Tyler Herro, Jemarl Baker

Bigs: P.J. Washington*, Wenyen Gabriel, E.J. Montgomery, Jarred Vanderbilt, Nick Richards

Arizona unveils statue of Lute Olson

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On Thursday, Arizona unveiled the newest addition to the McKale Center: A statue of legendary head coach Lute Olson.

Olson is a Hall Of Famer that spent 24 years as the head coach of the Wildcats, an era that spanned from 1983 through 2007. In the statue, he is holding the 1997 NCAA Championship trophy:

“He forever changed the trajectory and perception of our athletics department,” Dave Heeke, Arizona’s Director of Athletics, said of Olson, who led the Wildcats to four Final Four in his 24 years. “His legendary status is worthy of this honor.”

Penny Hardaway lands second Memphis-native in three weeks

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For the second time in just three weeks as the head coach of the Memphis Tigers, Penny Hardaway did something that Tubby Smith wasn’t able to do: land a commitment from a top 150 prospect from the city of Memphis.

On Friday, it was Tyler Harris, a 5-foot-9 point guard, that committed to the Tigers over the likes of Iowa State and Baylor. Three weeks ago, it was Alex Lomax, a point guard that had signed an NLI with Wichita State, that got out of his commitment and pledged to the Tigers.

There are a couple of reasons that this is intriguing.

For starters, suddenly Memphis is attracting talent again, and Memphis having a good, relevant basketball team is just good for the sport of college basketball as a whole. If Penny can figure things out at Memphis and Danny Hurley figures things out at UConn all while SMU, Cincinnati and Wichita State remain consistently in the mix for the NCAA tournament, we’re looking at the AAC being a strong league, particularly at the top.

That’s good.

What’s even more interesting is the amount of talent in the city of Memphis that is associated with Penny, from James Wiseman, the No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2019, to D.J. Jeffries, a five-star recruit currently committed to Kentucky, to the last two Lawson brothers. Getting Lomax and Harris are good building blocks and program recruits. Getting those other kids, however, is what puts Memphis back on the map.

We’ll see how it all plays out.

Texas Tech’s star freshman to return for sophomore season

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While Texas Tech may lose Zhaire Smith to the NBA draft a year earlier than they had hoped, the Red Raiders found out on Thursday that the other diamond in the rough on their roster would be returning to school.

Jarrett Culver, a 6-foot-5 forward from Texas that averaged 11.2 points and 4.8 boards while shooting 38 percent from three last season, announced that he will be returning to school for his sophomore season.

“Just a lot of prayer and talking with my family, just God leading me in the right direction,” Culver told KCBD in Lubbock. “It’s all part of the plan. I’m trusting it. I talked to coach and he figured out what’s best for me and what Zhaire is doing is best for him. We are on different terms right now, but it’s a blessing to be in Zhaire’s position and we are all happy for him and supporting him.”

Culver was not expected to be a first round pick had he decided to enter the draft this season.

The Red Raiders made an unexpected run to the Elite Eight this season, but with the number of key pieces they have graduating and the potential for losing Smith, they don’t look like they will be in the top 25 at the start of next season.

Kansas still expected to sign $191 million Adidas endorsement deal

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Kansas isn’t letting a little FBI investigation ruin their sponsorship agreement with Adidas.

The Jayhawks and the apparel company still plan to sign a 12-year, $191 million extension to their current deal, according to the Kansas City Star.

From the report:

KU associate athletic director Jim Marchiony said Wednesday that while the deal was not signed by both parties, KU was “actively in the process of completing the contract.”

Kansas was officially ensnared in the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college basketball this week when a new set of charges was handed by the FBI. Those involved two Kansas players that are believed to be Billy Preston and Silvio De Sousa.

Preston’s mother allegedly received at least $90,000 from an Adidas executive in exchange for his son’s commitment to Kansas, while De Sousa’s guardian was allegedly paid at least $20,000 by that same Adidas executive for his commitment, money that went to clearing a debt owed to a rival shoe company over a previous agreement that had been made.

Preston never played for Kansas. De Sousa did, and while his guardian has denied taking payments, it has put the last Kansas Big 12 title and their run to the 2018 Final Four in jeopardy.

Michigan to lose guard to transfer

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Michigan’s Ibi Watson announced on Thursday evening that he will be transferring out of the program.

Watson spent two seasons with the program, but he was never truly able to crack the rotation, averaging just 2.2 points in 5.2 minutes as a sophomore.

He was a member of the 2016 Michigan recruiting class, meaning that he likely would have spent the rest of his Michigan career battling for playing time against the likes of Zavier Simpson, Charles Matthews and Jordan Poole, all of whom are also underclassmen.